The drop, the flick

Two ultra-cool West Indians make England sweat

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Viv Richards pulls, England v West Indies, Lord's, World Cup final, 23 June 1979
Viv Richards treated the England attack as if they were a bunch of net bowlers © AllSport UK Ltd
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Series/Tournaments: Prudential World Cup

Lloyd's lucky drop, England v West Indies, final, Lord's
In reply to West Indies' 286 for 9, England made steady progress, getting to tea without losing a wicket. The issue was that Geoff Boycott and Mike Brearley were plodding, and instead of looking to get after the gentle offspin of Viv Richards, they were milking him for singles. While the capacity crowd was initially happy that the openers had seen off the new ball and weathered all that Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner could throw at them, concern grew as the overs ticked away.

Boycott, who had taken 17 overs to reach double figures, was facing shortly after tea when he came down the pitch to Richards and mistimed his stroke. The ball arced gently to Clive Lloyd, an outstanding fielder, even though he had already dropped Brearley. Just as slowly Lloyd dropped it at wide mid-on, ending up on his back with the ball on the turf close by.

England reached tea on 79 for 0 off 25 overs but the game was slipping away from them. "We weren't too worried when Lloyd contrived to drop Boycott," said Viv Richards. "I could have watched them all day because I knew every over they batted was another nail in their coffin," noted Lloyd. "A lot of people suggested I put [the catch] down purposefully just to keep him in... not true, but it wouldn't have been a bad tactic."

The drop brought Boycott out of his shell and he drove Roberts through the covers and then steered him to third man for two fours. The first-wicket stand finally ended with the score on 129 in the 39th over, but the damage had been done. England were running out of overs - and this was the era before fielding restrictions, so the boundary could be packed - and from 183 for 2 they lost eight wickets for 11 runs in a flurry of heaves and hoicks.

Richards slams Hendrick for six, England v West Indies, final, Lord's
West Indies, who had been stuck in by England, had recovered from 99 for 4 thanks to a brilliant fifth-wicket stand of 139 in 77 minutes between Collis King and Viv Richards. King had been dismissed for 86, at which point Richards laid into a tiring England attack. The last over of the innings was bowled by Mike Hendrick, whose 11 previous ones had cost 36. Richards was on strike and on 124. Richards, with the No. 11, Colin Croft, at the other end, kept strike throughout the over, taking eight runs from the first five balls. In the days before fielding restrictions, Mike Brearley, England's captain, had almost everyone back on the ropes as Hendrick ran in to bowl the final delivery.

"I had sussed with his long-off and long-on back that it would be fullish to allow me one or two," Richards recalled. "It was the correct ball, much fuller but slightly off the line, and I stepped to the off side and flicked it. I left the field thinking, 'That shot is my invention.'" The newspapers waxed lyrical, with Richards' last-ball swat attracting particular comment. Tony Cozier referred to Richards' "dismissal of the England attack as if they were net bowlers" while Clive Lloyd enthused at the "dramatic way he finished his innings".

The stand between Richards and King had enabled West Indies to post 286 for 9. England ran out of puff and lost by 92 runs. Richards, very much the fifth bowler, and someone England needed to milk if they were to win, bowled 10 tidy overs for 35 runs.

© ESPN EMEA Ltd.

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